There are actors whose name serves as a subgenre; you hear that they’re involved and generally you will have a good idea of what you’re in for, and in the case of Nicolas “NOT-THE-BEES-DEAR-GOD-NOT-THE-BEES” Cage, you’re prepared for a crazy good time and Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad is no exception. In it, a strange event is occurring, suddenly parents are attempting to murder their own children. In the midst of the chaos Carly (Anne Winters) and her little brother Josh (Zackary Arthur) attempt to stay alive whilst under siege in their home from their own parents Kendall (Selma Blair) and Brent (Nicolas Cage).
Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned breakdown of society, full of ridiculous violence to tear down the frankly already rather unsettling American suburbia. The film opens with these oddly 70s-esque opening credits; half sitcom, half exploitation film, and really that is in many ways what Mom and Dad is; a Grindhouse movie throwback but one that doesn’t need to constantly add over-the-top visual flourishes to remind you that’s what it is (unlike that 2007 double-feature I could mention). The scenes of parent on child violence, which the movie wastes very little time in getting to, are horrible but the film never dwells on the gory details more than required and does leave some things more implied, all the more terrible for it. It’s just the right level of outrageous. However, a certain scene set in a maternity ward may mean that you will never be able to listen to Roxette’s ‘It Must Have Been Love’ in quite the same way ever again.
As for the man of the hour (and twenty-three minutes), this is a level even beyond what we have seen from Nicolas Cage before in terms of being crazy and it is so much fun to watch. The film doesn’t even try to present him as an average everyman, already a simmering pot of middle aged frustration and wackiness from the get-go and it works, particularly because you’ve got Selma Blair there to handle the more dramatic emotional beats of the movie. Although don’t let that make you think that she doesn’t have her great unhinged moments as well, and when she and Cage are onscreen together it’s a perfect storm of madness, as they trade playful bickering whilst discussing the best way to kill their offspring. Said kids really sell the danger in what is almost a reverse home invasion as they try to avoid their parents. Newcomer Robert Cunningham as Carly’s boyfriend Damon, particularly, has good presence and makes for a minor standout. Then, just when you think the movie has run out of ideas, the grandparents arrive and it ups the stakes even more.
The ending is a little abrupt and may leave some unsatisfied, but this isn’t a movie designed to give you answers. It is here to be as off the wall as possible and it does that in spades. Mom and Dad is a thrill ride from start to finish, so just sit back and enjoy the mayhem.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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